Magazine article Information Management

Iraq Library Struggles to Survive

Magazine article Information Management

Iraq Library Struggles to Survive

Article excerpt

Sa'ad Eskander, director of Iraq's National Library in Baghdad, braves bullets and bombs to do his job each day.

The National Library--located on Haifa Street, one of the most dangerous in Baghdad--housed a valuable collection of ancient Islamic texts until 2003, when it was looted as U.S. forces invaded the city.

Since then, the library and its staff have struggled to keep the doors open. Just last year, five staff members were killed and more than a dozen abducted, according to a Reuters report. Bomb blasts and machine-gun fire rattle the building every day, and the violence has exacerbated the heart problems of some senior staff, who have been forced to take medical leave.

Before the war, according to Reuters, the library housed 1 million items, including centuries-old books and rare documents, some going back to the 8th century when Baghdad was founded as capital city of the Abbasid Caliphate under Harun al-Rasheed, in whose time the "One Thousand and One Nights" tales were collected. …

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